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    PATH offering free e-mail service alerts   

Wednesday, February 07, 2007  BY RON MARSICO Star-Ledger Staff 

Heading out to grab the PATH train? Check your e-mail first.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is offering free electronic alerts of service troubles and changes to any of the rail line's daily 227,000 users. "PATHAlerts" will notify riders by computer, cell phone, pager, Blackberry or other hand-held device of any delays exceeding 15 minutes. All that's required is registering with the agency. So far, the new program has signed up 2,700 customers and the Port Authority is increasing publicity. "The program makes a lot of sense because our society lives in a fast-paced time, where information is so rapidly disseminated," said Tony Ciavolella, a Port Authority spokesman, noting customers may identify specific times and lines. "What's good about this is that passengers can customize their information preferences."

Riders can join by logging onto www.panynj.info and clicking on the link to PATHAlerts. There is no charge, but the agency cautions that Internet service providers and cell phone/pager providers may have their own fees. The agency promises it will not give or sell customers' e-mail addresses to other parties.

Ciavolella said the biggest sign-up so far came on Jan. 8, when 575 joined on the same day a mysterious smell wafted over the metro area and led to a shutdown of the PATH line from Hoboken and Jersey City to 33rd Street in Manhattan for nearly 90 minutes.

Yesterday, NJ Transit riders leaving Manhattan found blue and white fliers on their train seats, touting the Port Authority's program with the lead-in: "Be the first to know about a delay or service change on your PATH train." Ciavolella said the e-mail notifications would be sent out whenever delays exceed 15 minutes and also would apprise riders whenever troubles force PATH and NJ Transit to cross-honor tickets.

NJ Transit started an e-mail notification program, called "My Transit," in 2001 that has grown to 38,000 participants. Last month, for example, it sent out 338 alerts to rail customers and 93 to bus and light rail riders, according to the agency.

Dan Stessel, an agency spokesman, said the notification program has proved popular for NJ Transit riders. "They want the ability to get information at their fingertips that is usable and can make a difference in the quality of their commutes," said Stessel. Ron Marsico can be reached at rmarsico@starledger.com or (973) 392-7860.

Ron Marsico may be reached at rmarsico@starledger.com or (973) 392-7860.
© 2006  The Star Ledger

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